They’re heavy, clunky, and definitely not easy to fit into a camera bag!
However, when it comes to long exposures, stitched panoramic shots, or the fact that maybe you’re a little shaky and haven’t got your camera holding skills down, tripods can save the day!
Some people say they should be the second purchase of photography equipment after the camera itself. I’m not sure about that, but for sure, they are important!
Nowadays, they are made from lighter materials such as carbon fibre, or aluminum – making them easier to carry. They can even fold down smaller so they can fit onto nicely made harnesses on your backpack or camera bag.
They range in price a LOT – and you don’t always get what you pay for.
For example, you can buy a super cheap tripod and be done, or you could opt to use a wall or a beanbag with a 2 second self timer – money saved!
Or, you can splash out on a super expensive big brand tripod which will cost almost $1000 – in which you are paying for the quality and sturdiness of the tripod, along with a heavier payload capability, all wrapped up in a super light package.
Don’t be foolish though when buying – sometimes if you look online or in magazines, you see a tripod for sale at $500 and it fits your budget, but, IT DOESN’T COME WITH A HEAD! This is sometimes confusing and weirded me out a little at first – why just sell tripod legs? It didn’t make sense.
Well, manufacturers understand that although you need a tripod, you may need a different type of head for the type of photography (or video) you’ll be doing.
A macro photographer may want a sliding rail head. A landscape photographer may desire a lever style or perhaps even a ball-head.
Anyhoo, think about what you’re shooting in terms of subject, and then think about your equipment, because your tripod needs to be secure enough to hold the weight of your camera, lens, and any accessories you may have (filters, mics, etc). Check out those weight restrictions!
Tripods support various other items on them – lighting, flashguns, strobes, softboxes remote devices etc. They’re not just for the cameras.
Personally, I have 2 tripods. One is a carbon fibre Gitzo and although sturdy – I don’t like the ball-head and plate that came with it. So I also have a Benro slim tripod (also carbon fibre for lightness) – which was cheaper than buying a new head for the Gitzo.
If I’m honest, I use the Gitzo legs and the cheapy Benro ballhead. My camera equipment isn’t too heavy that it needs that super expensive head.
Enough about me …
You want the tripod to be sturdy. If it’s windy, you can weigh a tripod down further by attaching your camera bag to the bottom of the center column. Most include a hook for this purpose.
Also, personally, I only extend the thickest legs of my tripod, so it has a better footing and solidarity. Just personal preference, unless I need the full height.
Lastly, if you’re into action, consider a monopod instead – these, as the name suggest have only one leg, and you can freely move it around – great for quickly changing direction and moving.
You can even buy monopods that double as walking poles. 2 for 1. I’ve Never tried them – but I am sure they work just great.
Keep your tripod sturdy.
Don’t forget to include the price of your tripod head when buying a tripod.
Work within your budget!